Man pleads guilty in fatal crash during Border Patrol chase

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- A 21-year-old man who led Border Patrol agents on a high-speed pursuit that killed three people near Boulevard plead guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter and related charges and is facing nearly 21 years behind bars.

Luis Alberto Virgen entered his plea to three counts of voluntary manslaughter and six counts of reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Virgen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 9 to 20 years and eight months in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney William La Fond.

The crash occurred last Nov. 29 on westbound Interstate 8. Virgen sped off when the federal personnel tried to pull over the passenger-packed white Chevrolet Silverado he was driving near the Mexican border in eastern San Diego County shortly before 4:30 p.m.

With the agents giving chase, Virgen entered Interstate 8 at Buckman Springs Road and fled to the east briefly before exiting at Ribbonwood Road and re-entering the freeway, this time headed west, the Border Patrol reported.

After fleeing for several more miles, the suspect ran over a tire- flattening spike strip that agents had laid across the roadway in his path east of Crestwood Road. About a minute later, the Silverado -- occupied by a single passenger in the front and the rest in the cargo bed -- veered off the interstate, went up a dirt embankment, became airborne, overturned and rolled back down the sloping roadside onto the freeway.

Virgen was the only one in the truck wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and the others were ejected, California Highway Patrol Officer Travis Garrow said. Two of the male passengers and the sole female member of the group died at the scene of the wreck, he said.

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